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NCCAM Launches Program to Help Boomers Understand CAM

Posted: July 18, 2008
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"As frequent users of CAM, people 50 and older need to understand the importance of discussing CAM use with their providers to ensure coordinated, safe care. Simply put, it's time to talk," said Josephine P. Briggs, M.D., NCCAM Director. "Giving your health care providers a full picture of what you do to manage your health helps you stay in control."

NCCAM's Time to Talk campaign encourages patients to tell their providers about CAM use and providers to ask about it by offering tools and resources—such as wallet cards, posters, and tip sheets—all of which are available for free on the NCCAM Web site or can be ordered from NCCAM's information Clearinghouse (1-888-644-6226). NCCAM is reaching out to professional associations and consumer organizations to help educate their members about the importance of this dialogue and the availability of NCCAM's campaign materials. As the Federal government's lead agency for scientific research on CAM, NCCAM is committed to educating both consumers and health care providers about the importance of discussing CAM and providing evidence-based information to help with health care decision making.

Patient Tips for Discussing CAM with Providers

  1. When completing patient history forms, be sure to include all therapies and treatments you use. Make a list in advance.
  2. Tell your health care providers about all therapies or treatments-including over-the-counter and prescription medicines, as well as herbal and dietary supplements.
  3. Take control. Don't wait for your providers to ask about your CAM use.
  4. If you are considering a new CAM therapy, ask your health care providers about its safety, effectiveness, and possible interactions with medicines (both prescription and over-the-counter).

Provider Tips for Discussing CAM with Patients

  1. Include a question about CAM use on medical history forms.
  2. Ask your patients to bring a list of all therapies they use, including prescription, over-the-counter, herbal therapies, and other CAM practices.
  3. Have your medical staff initiate the conversation.

For more information on Time to Talk, to order or download materials, or to read the full NCCAM/AARP report on CAM use communication, please visit